Addressing the media after practice, Bruce Arians spoke on the increasing wave of protests and how this related to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bizarrely, his statement has been used in some media outlets and by people on social media to completely miss the point of what Coach Arians was actually saying. For the clarification of everyone, here is the official quote from Bruce Arians:
“I talked with some of our guys. We have a good social justice program here, and our committee is meeting. If they want to do something, we’ll do it, as long as it’s something that’s going to have something to do with change and not just taking a day off.”
Looking at the quote, even in a dry state and without the benefit of hearing the tone and emphasis of Bruce Arians, how can this be viewed as negative? He has stated that he will do something with the team as long as it is something that will bring about change. How is working for true change a bad thing?
Coach Arians was asked later in the press conference about his reaction to the events unfolding and about what responsibility that teams and the league have in these situations. The official quote follows.
“The responsibility is to take action. I don’t know that protest is an action. I think each guy has a personal thing, I would beg them to take action. Find a cause and either support it financially or do something to change the situation, because protesting doesn’t do crap in my opinion. I’ve been seeing that since 1968.”
Again, how can advocating for real change be a bad thing? As someone who has seen a lot and done a lot to champion social equality, Bruce Arians personally feels that protesting hasn’t changed anything. Is he wrong? Have the same issues that plagued the US in the last 100 years and longer changed at all? The fact that we are having this conversation today is proof that protesting is not making changes in the way they should be changed. Coach Arians wants players and people to find a cause and support it, do something for positive change, fund a program that you believe in that makes a real difference to people. And somehow he’s racist, or doesn’t respect the people protesting? This is proof that with words, people can twist these to fit an agenda. Even DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA completely missed the point. This notion about how “woefully misinformed” Arians was, was quickly dismissed by the head coach when asked by Rick Stroud (Tampa Bay Times). I might also add to that the recommendation that DeMaurice Smith should watch the press conference as the meaning is perfectly clear.
For some people, the act of protesting is merely enough, they get to feel good about themselves and maybe post on social media about how “woke” they are. People like Bruce Arians want to see real change. That should be applauded, not twisted to fit an agenda.
Not many people might be aware at first glance, Arians was enrolled at Virginia Tech University, where he was the first white player to be roommates with one of his black teammates – the name of that player, James Barber, might not be familiar to many, but I’ll wager that people have heard of his twin sons, Ronde and Tiki Barber.
Growing up in Patterson, New Jersey, Bruce Arians was acutely aware of racial inequality as protestors and police clashed. Seeing those protests in 1968 and over 50 years later being asked how effective protesting is, it isn’t hard to agree that things still need to change.
Sports is something we all relate too and tune into, while people may say “keep politics out of sports” the athletes have a social responsibility to use their platform to bring awareness to something that should not be continuing to happen in ANY modern country let alone the United States. Painting itself as a beacon to the rest of the world, the land of the free and home of the brave, the USA should be the forefront champion of equality.
In my opinion, Bruce Arians is right, even if that scares you. We ALL have a responsibility to our fellow humans, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or whatever is used to oppress a group of people. Rather than twisting the meaning of something that should be clear and obvious, let us all act together to make a difference; even a small change in your local community can be huge. This starts with us all bringing about real change over something that is long overdue.